In a world where companies have a monopoly over our eyeballs, the Facebook scandal is the tip of the iceberg
In 2007, a Facebook application popped up that allowed users to take a quiz that would tell them exactly what kind of person they were: how emotionally stable they were compared with their friends, or how friendly they were. They were invited to tick a little box to share their information – including photographs, likes and political interests from their Facebook pages. The information would go to researchers David Stillwell and Michal Kosinski at the University of Cambridge to help with their research. Users were told this when they agreed to using it. No big deal.
Until Aleksandr Kogan, the man now caught up in a string of investigations into private company Cambridge Analytica, came along. Kogan built a similar personality quiz giving access to 50m Facebook profiles to the company now accused of using big data to influence elections. He says he had approached Stillwell and Kosinski back in 2014, wanting to collaborate. It didn’t happen.